Inclusive leadership and diversity

updates + insights » Inclusive leadership and diversity

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Christopher Luxon recently made a very bold statement about diversity at a senior level within the global aviation industry – he expressed an honesty that was somewhat unexpected.

While accepting an award for diversity and inclusion at the International Air Transport Association (Iata) annual meeting in South Korea, Mr Luxton made the comment below – which has gone on to be well publicised following the event.

"The big elephant in the room if we want to be honest with ourselves is that Iata and the global aviation industry has an abysmal record on diversity and inclusion,'' he said.

A lot of change is already happening within the diversity and inclusion space, as we move from having a conversation to taking action. Decipher Group has frequently blogged on this topic in previous posts. We also recently led a discussion aimed at senior HR leaders that challenged thinking around what inclusive leadership really means, through a lens of diversity and inclusion within the workplace.  

Professional services firm Deloitte defines inclusive leadership as the capability to understand the context around diversity of markets, diversity of customers, diversity of ideas and diversity of talent – while also delivering the core aspects of leadership, such as setting direction and influencing others. Deloitte have identified six signature traits of an inclusive leader including cognizance, curiosity, courage, cultural intelligence, commitment and collaboration.

Having launched a diversity and inclusion strategy in 2013, Air New Zealand are clearly demonstrating a curiosity and commitment to improving all sorts of diversity within the organisation. Taking into account Christopher Luxon’s recent speech, he is certainty showing the courage to make to some pretty confronting statements on the world stage – which we will also hold him and his organisation to account, in terms of driving change.

At the heart of inclusive leadership is treating others fairly and respectfully and being honest and authentic in your approach. Aside from making a grand statement at an awards ceremony, what can you do as a senior executive to create an inclusive culture in your organisation?

Ask for feedback – Identify your own areas for improvement by asking for feedback from others on whether you are inclusive. As well as identifying areas for improvement, it signals to others that this is something that is important to you.

Share you story – Sharing personal stories is a clear and practical way of demonstrating the importance of diversity and inclusion to you.

Encourage difference – Engage with people who are not like you and give their voice a platform. Make time to catch up with a broader network of people and invite those different voices to the table.

Are you driving change – Can you see a visible difference in your organisation; is the conversation around diversity and inclusion leading to actual change? Look at the behaviours of others in your senior leadership team or find practical examples of inclusion initiatives within the business.

As with any change, becoming an inclusive leader and demonstrating an authenticity about driving a shift in diversity and inclusion within your organisation is something that needs to happen over time. What is clear however is that this needs to start at the top.  

Decipher Group provides professional development guidance to senior leaders to effectively engage and inspire their team and contribute towards a constructive workplace culture. Call us today.

The Decipher Team      

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